Snake Bite Love

No one could have predicted:

A Kentucky pastor who starred in a reality show about snake-handling in church has died — of a snakebite.

Jamie Coots died Saturday evening after refusing to be treated, Middleborough police said.

On “Snake Salvation,” the ardent Pentecostal believer said that he believed that a passage in the Bible suggests poisonous snakebites will not harm believers as long as they are anointed by God. The practice is illegal in most states, but still goes on, primarily in the rural South.

Coots was a third-generation “serpent handler” and aspired to one day pass the practice and his church, Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name, on to his adult son, Little Cody.

This was as predictable as the cast of Buck Wild getting themselves all arrested and/or dead.

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65 replies
  1. 1
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    These people are NOT SANE.

    Period. End of discussion.

  2. 2
    Botsplainer says:

    Why do you hate Jesus, Cole?

  3. 3
    Gravenstone says:

    Darwin says, “hello moron”.

  4. 4
    drbloor says:

    Dennis Covington’s “Salvation on Sand Mountain” is a fascinating read on the subject.

  5. 5
    JPL says:

    What happened to the snake?

  6. 6
    Chris says:

    A reminder to us all, if any more was needed, that people like this are not simply con artists running a scam on the gullible rubes around them. Many of them are, themselves, every bit the utter lunatics that the followers who believe their stories are.

  7. 7
    Baud says:

    I wonder how many people have been accused of being disfavored by God for dying the same way.

  8. 8
    WaterGirl says:

    Makes me think of the episodes with the fake snake handler in Justified. Things didn’t end so well for him, either, as I recall.

  9. 9
    c u n d gulag says:

    That poor snake probably died a horrible death after biting that venomous sociopath.

  10. 10
    WaterGirl says:

    @Baud: And now look at what’s happened to his reputation! Everyone will think he wasn’t anointed by god.

    He should have gotten the treatment on the sly (just in case) and he would still be here today.

    I know we’re all being snarky, but I imagine this has really rocked his son’s world in a big way, and I do feel badly for him. He loses his father, and the godly anointing of his father and/or his family, and he may end up losing his previous plan for the future.

  11. 11
    Amir Khalid says:

    I’m curious. Just what is the supposed scriptural authority for this dangerous nonsense?

  12. 12
    MikeJ says:


    I wonder how many people have been accused of being disfavored by God for dying the same way.

    Have you seen all the floods gay people are causing across Britain?

  13. 13
    MikeJ says:

    @Amir Khalid: Mark 16:18 – They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

  14. 14
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Was infected with the spirit of Jeebus, and has been named to the board of J.P. Morgan and Co.

  15. 15
    The Thin Black Duke says:

    As a close friend of mine who works in IT would say, “It’s just another example of a self-correcting problem.”

  16. 16
    The Other Chuck says:

    @MikeJ: Funny how you don’t see them drinking drano to prove their faith, despite the scripture.

  17. 17
    dave says:

    @Amir Khalid: @Amir Khalid:

    Mark Chapter 16:18
    9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

    10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

    11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.

    12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.

    13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.

    14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

    15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

    16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

    17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

    18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

  18. 18
    Baud says:

    I bet that snake was a liberal atheist.

  19. 19
    Mudge says:

    Same initials as John Cole..who is a well known cat and dog handler. But if he had a son, would he be Little Cody? One must speculate.

  20. 20
    Amir Khalid says:

    Thanks. Do any of them do the poison-ingesting thing?

  21. 21
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @The Other Chuck:

    If only Obama would go on national television and warn everyone not to drink Drano.

  22. 22
    Walker says:

    This regularly happens to handlers. It is amazing that they have any ministers left.

  23. 23
    Baud says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Ever eaten at Denny’s?

  24. 24
    Jay S says:

    @WaterGirl: With any luck the son has taken the message to heart to not do this.

  25. 25
    elmo says:

    Meanwhile, God is saying “What do you mean I didn’t do anything to save you? I made sure there were such things as antivenin, and ambulances, and emergency rooms…”

  26. 26
    Amir Khalid says:

    The nearest Denny’s is in Singapore and has a non-halal menu, so no. But I see what you did there.

  27. 27
    beergoggles says:

    @MikeJ: Not enough of them drinking cyanide it seems…

  28. 28
    Amir Khalid says:


  29. 29
    BGinCHI says:

    Live by the snake….

  30. 30
    catclub says:

    And on the other hand there is this passage where the devil tells Jesus he could throw himself off the pinnacle of the Temple and the angels will hold him up..

    Jesus turns down that offer.

    What were Garrison Keillor’s family? Seventh day Hop adventists?

    Faith, hop, and charity.

  31. 31
    Mandalay says:

    The practice is illegal in most states, but still goes on, primarily in the rural South.

    And it is illegal in Kentucky where Coots died…

    Kentucky outlawed handing poisonous snakes in religious services in 1940, but serious attempts to enforce the law ended decades ago because of reluctance by authorities to prosecute people for their religious beliefs.

    There’s an interesting summary on the history of snake handling here.

  32. 32
    NotMax says:

    Everyone ought to view Marjoe once.

    (Don’t know if it is on Netflix.)

  33. 33
    JGabriel says:

    A Kentucky pastor who starred in a reality show about snake-handling in church has died — of a snakebite.

    Didn’t they just do that on Justified last year?

  34. 34
    MikeJ says:

    @The Other Chuck:

    Funny how you don’t see them drinking drano to prove their faith, despite the scripture.

    @Amir Khalid:

    Thanks. Do any of them do the poison-ingesting thing?

    Actually they do often drink poisons, at least according to what I found on the web.

  35. 35
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @MikeJ: Note that this is one of many Gifts of the Holy Spirit, whose key manifestation is speaking in tongues (technical term is glossolaila)

    This is a key doctrinal point of the Assemblies of God Churches and in the Charismatic subsection of Roman Catholicism.

  36. 36
    Amir Khalid says:

    I’m not too sure if the guy at your link has all his marbles. I’m inclined to take his claims with more than a grain assault.

  37. 37
    NotMax says:

    Amir Khalid

    with more than a grain assault.

    Gotta ask if that was deliberate or a typo.

  38. 38
    Pogonip says:

    @MikeJ: The mainstream interpretation of this passage is that this power was only granted to those sent out IN THAT GROUP; after a few early Christians found out the hard way that they did not have this power, the rest of Christendom drew the obvious conclusion, and that was pretty much how things stayed till the 19th century, an era with much Christian lunatic-fringe activity, much of which carried over into the following centuries.

  39. 39
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:


    I wonder how many people have been accused of being disfavored by God for dying the same way.

    Pretty horrible thought for this guy’s family, on top of it all.

  40. 40
    Schlemizel says:

    What most of the snake handlers don’t seem to understand is that rattle snakes are not very deadly. That, along with the ability to build a tolerance for certain poisons allows them to pretend they are defended by God when they don’t die. Generally snakes are not that excited about injecting venom either & that saves them too.

    They really need to swallow a fist full of Polonium or dance with a black mamba a fer-de-lance or boomslang if they want to actually prove God is protecting them. Doing that would free us of some really backwards folks.

  41. 41
    Amir Khalid says:

    It’s a direct quote from the site at the link.

  42. 42
    shelly says:

    Somebody should tell this congregation that most snakes don’t spend a lot of time reading the Bible.

  43. 43
    Hungry Joe says:

    As if Donna Tartt’s “The Little Friend” weren’t gothic-redneck, funny-weird enough, there are a couple of long set pieces with snakes and snake handlers that will leave you gasping. Literate, scary, disturbing, and hilarious.

  44. 44
    shelly says:

    Lord , it just popped into my head. Norman Lear hosted SNL back in…the late ’70’s. The skit was him hearing pitches for another ground/taboo-breaking TV show. One writer suggested a family of snake handlers (all members sitcom- wacky, of course) Still remember Jane Curtin playing a character coming home from a hard day, and saying tersely ‘Snake, please!)

  45. 45
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @Schlemizel: Western Diamondbacks are the most dangerous of the rattlesnakes in the US-and they do kill a good percentage of their victims left untreated….

  46. 46
    Gex says:

    You know what I would like to see? I would like to see the people who comment on these things, smugly acting as though they are so much smarter than these folks, stop saying DARWIN! when dumb people kill themselves in dumb ways WHEN THOSE PEOPLE HAVE ALREADY PROCREATED. Sheesh.

  47. 47
    princess leia says:

    @drbloor: That is an amazing, captivating read. I am terrified of snakes, but couldn’t put that book down.

  48. 48
    bemused says:

    The last names of some of these lunatics are fascinating. Coots?

  49. 49
    WereBear says:

    So much of fringe Christian activity seems based on what I call god-dares.

    We’re going to skip the doctors with their antibiotics and pray this child well!

    We’re going to have as many children as possible because the Lord will provide!

    I’m going to give up X, Y, and Z and the Lord will make this a winning lottery ticket!

    God has told me not to worry about getting snake-bit!

    All of these are the person deciding what God is, and what he does, and how he can be bargained with. It’s the person using the Divine as a cloak for giving something up, or taking something they have no right to, all to get what they want.

    If there is a god/dess, S/He is not pleased by this crap.

  50. 50
    John Weiss says:

    @Howard Beale IV: Actually that’s not the case. I give you the Mojave rattlesnake, a beautiful creature that sports both hemotoxin and neurotoxin: gets you quick.

  51. 51
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    It’s pretty easy to yuk-yuk the old “Snakes 1, Pastors 0” here, but I’m going to step back a bit and get all anthropological.

    This is a kind of family/tribal religion wrapped loosely in the guise of Christianity. It lives in the Appalachians and that’s about it. It’s close in a lot of way to the really weird shit that came out of the Levantine deserts back in the day, and it has nothing in common with grifting Walmart-megachurchers like Rick Warren. If you read accounts of the church services, you’re talking about hardcore charismatic mystical “religious experience”. That has a certain amount of authenticity to it, especially if you’re living up in the dirt-poor mountains. It’s probably a little safer than meth.

  52. 52
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @John Weiss: The Mojave may be the most toxic, but the Western Diamondback is still the #1 killer in the US-as the website you referenced so conveniently pointed out. Seems like there be a shitpot full of Western Diamondbacks vs an anemic number of Mojave rattlers out there-then again I believe the Western Diamondback is perhaps the most aggressive as well. This Missasauga would just soon scamper away rather than fight.

    Speaking of getting bit, remember that story two weeks ago about that guy in NC that got nicked by a Copperhead? Drove himself to a hospital, spent 18 hours there, took 4 vials of antivenom, total hospital bill–$89,000.

  53. 53
    Bex says:

    @Amir Khalid: According to the footnotes in “The Jewish Annotated New Testament,” edited by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler, “This was not likely the original ending of Mark; it is possibly an early version of the ending of the Gospel story, added to Mark to suppy a conclusion, but most scholars assume that it was a pastiche of phrases from the other Gospels composed in the second century CE. For centuries it was accepted as the authentic conclusion of Mark’s Gospel. It provides the scriptural basis for modern practices still occasionally found among Christian groups regarding snake-handling and drinking poison while “in the spirit.”

  54. 54
    Thoughtful David says:

    @Schlemizel: But they need to do it before they breed:

    his adult son, Little Cody

    Gex says it a little more strongly at #46.

  55. 55
    hells littlest angel says:

    I’ve had it with these motherfucking snakes in this motherfucking church.

  56. 56
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @hells littlest angel:


  57. 57

    @dave: Notwithstanding that this passage was most likely added after the Gospel of Mark was completed.

    And also notwithstanding that when Jesus was faced with the same temptation to try and inflict bodily harm on himself based on a scriptural promise that angels would save Him, He declined to test God.

  58. 58
    Cermet says:

    I feel sorry for him and his family; he was foolish for taking that one line in the bible so literally, and stupid for refusing help after getting bitten. Still, he never harmed people like cheney or bush and he tried, in his own limited way, to prove his belief – wrong but not as evil as so many that run the thug party that only support the 0.01%. Not aware that he endangered others nor told others to refuse medical help – for him, it was most likely a test of his faith. Bad choice. Many make bad choices and live to see another day – he lost. Sad.

  59. 59
    Mezz (fpa Michael2) says:

    Huh. This guy must not have watched _Justified_ last season, where a religious fakir was bitten by the snakes he handled for the Harlan, KY, Hillbillies.

    I think we have our first favorite for the Darwin Awards, 2014.

    And those @Gex: And even if this stupid motherf****er has already procreated, I’ll still be glad the dumb asshole has stopped using the valuable oxygen the rest of us put to MUCH better use.
    And obviously we ARE all smarter than this stupid shit, because we have the sense NOT TO PLAY WITH POISONOUS SNAKES.

  60. 60
    Paul in KY says:

    @Chris: It’s not a lie, if you believe it.

  61. 61
    Paul in KY says:

    @MikeJ: My 10 cent analysis is that they can hold a snake & it will not bite them. Doesn’t say nothing about what happens if they get bit. Does seem to indicate they can drink poisons & not be affected.

    Wonder why they don’t drink draino?

  62. 62
    Paul in KY says:

    @The Other Chuck: Good one, Chuck! See you beat me to it.

  63. 63
    Paul in KY says:

    @Amir Khalid: Once.

  64. 64
    Paul in KY says:

    @Amir Khalid: If they ever say they have a ‘halal menu’, they’re lying.

  65. 65
    Paul in KY says:

    @Howard Beale IV: Think Western is also alot larger & delivers more venom.

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